The Haunted Hotel
In the spring of the year 1861, Agnes was established at the country-seat of her two
friends--now promoted (on the death of the first lord, without offspring) to be the new
Lord and Lady Montbarry. The old nurse was not separated from her mistress. A place,
suited to her time of life, had been found for her in the pleasant Irish household. She was
perfectly happy in her new sphere; and she spent her first half-year's dividend from the
Venice Hotel Company, with characteristic prodigality, in presents for the children.
Early in the year, also, the Directors of the life insurance offices submitted to
circumstances, and paid the ten thousand pounds. Immediately afterwards, the widow of
the first Lord Montbarry (otherwise, the dowager Lady Montbarry) left England, with
Baron Rivar, for the United States. The Baron's object was announced, in the scientific
columns of the newspapers, to be investigation into the present state of experimental
chemistry in the great American republic. His sister informed inquiring friends that she
accompanied him, in the hope of finding consolation in change of scene after the
bereavement that had fallen on her. Hearing this news from Henry Westwick (then
paying a visit at his brother's house), Agnes was conscious of a certain sense of relief.
'With the Atlantic between us,' she said, 'surely I have done with that terrible woman
Barely a week passed after those words had been spoken, before an event happened
which reminded Agnes of 'the terrible woman' once more.
On that day, Henry's engagements had obliged him to return to London. He had ventured,
on the morning of his departure, to press his suit once more on Agnes; and the children,
as he had anticipated, proved to be innocent obstacles in the way of his success. On the
other hand, he had privately secured a firm ally in his sister-in-law. 'Have a little
patience,' the new Lady Montbarry had said, 'and leave me to turn the influence of the
children in the right direction. If they can persuade her to listen to you-- they shall!'
The two ladies had accompanied Henry, and some other guests who went away at the
same time, to the railway station, and had just driven back to the house, when the servant
announced that 'a person of the name of Rolland was waiting to see her ladyship.'
'Is it a woman?'
'Yes, my lady.'
Young Lady Montbarry turned to Agnes.
'This is the very person,' she said, 'whom your lawyer thought likely to help him, when he
was trying to trace the lost courier.'
'You don't mean the English maid who was with Lady Montbarry at Venice?'